As spring approaches, students on Union’s campus see more and more couples getting engaged and, shortly thereafter, married. It is a common thing to do, especially at Christian universities, and multiple reasons exist for this trend.
According to the 2010 American Community Survey, the average age of a first marriage in the United States is age 28, more specifically, 29 for males and 27 for females.
This age bracket has been slowly rising since the 1980s.
Couples who marry younger, especially in their teens, tend to be more likely to divorce, but Micah Watson, associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Politics and Religion, said education and economic standing play a major part in divorce likelihood as well.
“The more educated you are, the more likely you are to get married and stay married,” Watson said.
Watson said those who marry young but have a good education are more likely to be financially stable and, thus, will have less stress early
in their marriages.
He also said those who have lived on their own before and who are more mature tend to experience less stress.
However, for students involved in serious relationships at Union, the religious factor must also be considered.
According to an article by Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, which was published by The Gospel Coalition, nominal Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.
Conservative Protestants are 10 percent less likely to divorce, and active conservative Protestants are 35 percent less likely to divorce.
Watson said that nominal Protestant and conservative Protestant differences are based on beliefs while “activeness” is determined by how often people do religious things, such as going to church.
“When sociologists and other social scientists want to look at religion in a society, there are different ways to measure that,” Watson said. “One way is just to ask people. But if we really want to know how important religion is in someone’s life, we want to know how it impacts
Watson said one main reason active Christians are less likely to divorce is because of the biblical view of marriage.
“If you take the biblical view of marriage, what you believe you do when getting married is something that’s permanent,” Watson said. “That permanence is the foundation by which you handle all the storms. If you don’t have that, it’s harder.”
Another reason active Christians tend to divorce less, Watson said, is that they have a social support system. That support can include older couples who have experienced the struggles of young married life as well as friends and mentors.
“I think even if you weren’t religious you could see how that would be a helpful factor,” Watson said.
Watson said reasons exist to be careful about getting married young, but some dangers exist when waiting too long.
“It’s really something that college students should take seriously — without thinking that if they don’t have a ring by spring that something has gone terribly wrong but also keeping in mind that if that does happen, that’s wonderful,” he said.